On one fine summer day in 2011, I was zipping around on my new moped headed to the local Rite Aid convenience store. I had an incredibly important purchase I was about to make.
After breezing through the sliding doors, I headed straight back to the pharmacy area. I was beaming. I was grinning ear-to-ear.
Given my excited state, the pharmacist probably thought I was a virgin looking to score my first Trojans. Nope. I was after something much more important.
After securing the cargo, I headed back home to meet with my wife, Nicole.
We decided that the 3-pack of pregnancy tests was the best way to go. She’d take two tests and I’d take another one. That way, we’d be triply positive that these little white sticks weren’t defective.
Much to our extreme delight, my test was negative (phew!) and both of Nicole’s tests were positive. Those incredible pink plus signs had us jumping around our tiny bungalow like two kids on a sugar high. We were high! We were going to be parents!
Learning this monumental news made this specific day one of the best of our lives thus far. That day was also a major turning point for our young family. It propelled our lives in a whole new direction.
Not Living for Me … Living for We
When the euphoria of becoming a father for the first time started to subside, a brand new thought process began to creep its way into my life. I quite rapidly started to think about the future and how I could best protect my growing family.
Evidently, this brain change for new fathers is quite common, according to Scientific American. In a 2014 article entitled “How a New Father’s Brain Changes,” they describe how a new Dad’s thought process is quite different from the new mother.
“Instead of thinking about cuddling or feeding the baby, dads-to-be focused on the future: They imagined saving money for a college fund or walking down the aisle at their daughter’s wedding.”
This article described my thought process in 2011 to a T! My little Zoey was coming into our lives in 7 short months and I needed to get ready.
Up until this point, I had focused a lot on my own personal joy and that of my new wife. Now it was time to think about our child and our child’s future.
Goodbye Debt and Hello Future
Around this time, my interest in personal finance started to grow and I read a lot of books to plan for our family's future. When I saw my little girl in the ultrasound, my passion for learning and my desire to win for my family accelerated immensely.
We were in the midst of paying off around $50,000 worth of debt that had been accumulated from past student loans and a car loan. Nicole and I decided to focus our efforts more intently over the remainder of the year and rid ourselves of our consumer debt completely.
A key element to our debt freedom plan was the monthly ritual that we dubbed “The Budget Party”. (Yes, it does sound like those two words go together like oil and water, but hey whatever works, right?)
We’d meet (and still do) on the first of each month and review three things:
- The spending plan for the month
- Dreams for our family’s future
- Actions we’d need to take to reach those goals
These monthly meetings allowed us to both have a voice in our family’s future and craft solid plans to win with our finances.
Our diligence and partnership paid off … literally. By the year’s end, we were debt-free. Evidently bringing a human into the world kickstarts your financial maturity!
Related Article: How to Throw a Budget Party with Your Spouse
The Power of Intentionality
My new-found passion for improving our family’s finances started to become a habit. Once we achieved one large goal that further secured a healthy future for our family, I was primed and ready for the next one.
Over the next few years, we began dreaming of even bigger goals that could truly strengthen our family tree.
- In 2013, we purchased our dream house with 40% down and set the goal of paying off our mortgage in less than five years.
- By 2014, our ability to save and consistently plan our monthly cash flow allowed Nicole to leave her job and become a stay-at-home Mom when our son Calvin was born.
- In 2016, I started a blog to hold myself accountable to our goals and chronicle our journey to financial independence
- In 2017, we completely paid off our $195,000 mortgage … one year ahead of schedule.
- In 2018, we increased our charitable giving from 1% to 3% of our income
- Now in 2019, we’re crafting our life and work schedules around our passions and our family.
The drive, focus, and intentionality that we’ve brought into our daily habits have all been centered on how we can secure the best future for our family. Investing for Zoey and Calvin’s college tuition, setting up our last will and testament and leaving a legacy of financial knowledge are all things we've focused on over the past few years.
Before having my little girl I didn’t think much further than what I had planned for the following weekend. Now, I am planning for the rest of my life. I owe it to Zoey for changing my perspective and leading us onto the path toward financial freedom.
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This article was originally featured in STAND Magazine issue 07. If you're a man who gives a damn, check out this magazine.